Microsoft, Amazon to bring 'eBooks to the masses'

Although the companies wouldn't be drawn on exactly when the Amazon eBook store will appear, both parties said it will be "as soon as possible."

Amazon will offer Microsoft Reader as the "preferred format and preferred reading appliance" for its upcoming eBook store, according to Lyn Blake, general manager of Amazon Books. Microsoft Reader is software that enables users to read electronic books, including a technology known as ClearType, designed to improve on-screen text resolution.

Visitors to the Amazon eBook site will be able to download a customised version of Microsoft Reader, Blake said at a press conference here at the Seybold publishing conference. "We chose Microsoft because it's the leading software technology for extended reading on any device," she added. Blake wouldn't reveal any details on eBook pricing. "It's too early to tell," she said.

"We are partnering to bring eBooks to the masses," Dick Brass, Microsoft vice president of technology development, said. He added that the customised version of Microsoft Reader for Amazon would be in the order of 90 to 99 per cent similar to the standard release of the software, but couldn't comment on specific Amazon features.

Microsoft already has an eBook partnership in place with Amazon's main rival online bookstore BarnesandNoble.com. First announced in January of this year, the tie-up opened for business earlier this month.

Amazon does expect to support other eBook formats as well as Microsoft's, Blake said, but declined to give any further specifics. Initially, the electronic book seller will look to use the digital-rights management features in Microsoft Reader in a very straightforward way, she added. Over time, however, Amazon may well look at using the technology in a variety of ways so as to, for example, allow one month's reading, instead of a lifetime's reading, for a cheaper price.

Amazon may also investigate offering to replace eBooks that people accidentally lose, according to Microsoft's Brass.

Microsoft will not restrict its eBook partnerships to Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com and may consider similar deals with independent bookstores, Brass said. He's optimistic that more and more titles will become available in eBook form. Brass expects to see tens of thousands of titles available this year, with hundreds of thousands of eBook titles available a year from now.

The eBook technology has a long way to go, according to Brass. "We're at 1908 now; this is the Model T eBook," he said, holding up a notebook displaying a Star Trek eBook. "This is the worst eBook we'll ever have." Eventually, the difference between the resolution of a screen and a piece of paper will be the same, Brass said, with eBooks and laptop computers having the necessary storage to hold millions of titles.

Microsoft is currently working on improving the navigation features in its Reader software, Brass said. One thing eBooks can't display that printed titles can is the sense of where a reader is in a book. When you open a printed book to a particular page, you can see immediately, for instance, whether you're halfway through the book. Microsoft is investigating how to duplicate that feeling in eBooks, he added.

Another area the software vendor is working on is how to enable Microsoft Reader to handle navigating more than one book at a time so that readers can easily move between all the electronic titles they have loaded on their devices, Brass said. Microsoft is also investigating how to synchronise text and sound, he added.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Clare Haney

PC World
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?